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Crime and safety top of mind for Summit County residents in 2023 Community Pulse Report

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A new poll from the Center for Marketing and Opinion Research finds that crime and safety was the number one issue residents thought Summit County was facing.

A new community survey of Summit County residents shows that the issue of crime and safety is top of mind this year, while economic concerns remain unchanged.

The Center for Marketing and Opinion Research publishes a Summit County Community Pulse Report every year with the goal of monitoring the quality of life in the county and identifying community needs.

Residents ranked crime and safety as the most important problem facing Summit County this year. This is the first year crime and safety has been named the top concern, principal Amanda Barna said, jumping from 18% in 2022 to 30% in 2023.

“I wasn’t surprised that it was number one," Barna said, "but the fact that it increased so much from last year to this year was surprising.”

Concerns about the economy remained about the same, with 36% rating the local economy favorably.

“There hasn’t been too much of a change from last year to this year, although it is still kind of on a downward trend," Barna said. "But it’s on a slight downward trend.”

Favorable ratings of job opportunities in the county dropped just one percent from last year to 52%. But more residents reported being better off financially than last year. Thoughts on housing remained relatively unchanged from last year.

However, these numbers weren’t indicative of how all Summit County residents feel, Barna said.

“We see some really big demographic differences when it comes to how residents rate the local economy," Barna said.

Young people, renters, and nonwhite and Akron residents were more likely to have a less favorable view on economic issues, according to the survey.

For the first time, the poll asked residents their thoughts on their local police departments, and more than half of residents rated the job of local police keeping their community safe favorably.

"However, there was some really large demographic differences on that question, particularly in Akron versus Summit County or suburban areas of the county as well as substantial differences in race," Barna said.

Nearly 75% of suburban residents say their local police are doing a good job, but only 35% of Akronites think so. Only 38% of nonwhite residents say their local police are doing a good job, while 61% of white residents think so.

These differences in opinion based on location is not surprising to Barna.

"I think it's expected," Barna said. "We tend to see more favorable ratings in all the different areas in suburban areas."

Nearly two thirds of residents say they’re satisfied with Summit County as a place to live, the lowest positive rating in the poll’s history.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.